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Daniel 7:1-8

Context
Daniel has a Vision of Four Animals Coming up from the Sea

7:1 In the first 1  year of King Belshazzar of Babylon, Daniel had 2  a dream filled with visions 3  while he was lying on his bed. Then he wrote down the dream in summary fashion. 4  7:2 Daniel explained: 5  “I was watching in my vision during the night as 6  the four winds of the sky 7  were stirring up the great sea. 8  7:3 Then four large beasts came up from the sea; they were different from one another.

7:4 “The first one was like a lion with eagles’ wings. As I watched, its wings were pulled off and it was lifted up from the ground. It was made to stand on two feet like a human being, and a human mind 9  was given to it. 10 

7:5 “Then 11  a second beast appeared, like a bear. It was raised up on one side, and there were three ribs 12  in its mouth between its teeth. 13  It was told, 14  ‘Get up and devour much flesh!’

7:6 “After these things, 15  as I was watching, another beast 16  like a leopard appeared, with four bird-like wings on its back. 17  This beast had four heads, 18  and ruling authority was given to it.

7:7 “After these things, as I was watching in the night visions 19  a fourth beast appeared – one dreadful, terrible, and very strong. 20  It had two large rows 21  of iron teeth. It devoured and crushed, and anything that was left it trampled with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that came before it, and it had ten horns.

7:8 “As I was contemplating the horns, another horn – a small one – came up between them, and three of the former horns were torn out by the roots to make room for it. 22  This horn had eyes resembling human eyes and a mouth speaking arrogant 23  things.

1 sn The first year of Belshazzar’s reign would have been ca. 553 B.C. Daniel would have been approximately 67 years old at the time of this vision.

2 tn Aram “saw.”

3 tn Aram “and visions of his head.” The Aramaic is difficult here. Some scholars add a verb thought to be missing (e.g., “the visions of his head [were alarming him]”), but there is no external evidence to support such a decision and the awkwardness of the text at this point may be original.

4 tn Aram “head of words.” The phrase is absent in Theodotion. Cf. NIV “the substance of his dream.”

5 tn Aram “answered and said.”

6 tn Aram “and behold.”

7 tn Or “the heavens.” The Hebrew term שָׁמַיִם (shamayim) may be translated “heavens” or “sky” depending on the context.

8 sn The referent of the great sea is unclear. The common view that the expression refers to the Mediterranean Sea is conjectural.

9 tn Aram “heart of a man.”

10 sn The identity of the first animal, derived from v. 17 and the parallels in chap. 2, is Babylon. The reference to the plucking of its wings is probably a reference to the time of Nebuchadnezzar’s insanity (cf. chap. 4). The latter part of v. 4 then describes the restoration of Nebuchadnezzar. The other animals have traditionally been understood to represent respectively Media-Persia, Greece, and Rome, although most of modern scholarship identifies them as Media, Persia, and Greece. For a biblical parallel to the mention of lion, bear, and leopard together, see Hos 13:7-8.

11 tn Aram “and behold.”

12 sn The three ribs held securely in the mouth of the bear, perhaps representing Media-Persia, apparently symbolize military conquest, but the exact identity of the “ribs” is not clear. Possibly it is a reference to the Persian conquest of Lydia, Egypt, and Babylonia.

13 tc The LXX lacks the phrase “between its teeth.”

14 tn Aram “and thus they were saying to it.”

15 tn Aram “this.” So also in v. 7.

16 tn Aram “and behold, another one.”

17 tn Or “sides.”

18 sn If the third animal is Greece, the most likely identification of these four heads is the four-fold division of the empire of Alexander the Great following his death. See note on Dan 8:8.

19 tn The Aramaic text has also “and behold.” So also in vv. 8, 13.

20 sn The fourth animal differs from the others in that it is nondescript. Apparently it was so fearsome that Daniel could find nothing with which to compare it. Attempts to identify this animal as an elephant or other known creature are conjectural.

21 tn The Aramaic word for “teeth” is dual rather than plural, suggesting two rows of teeth.

22 tn Aram “were uprooted from before it.”

23 tn Aram “great.” So also in vv. 11, 20.



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